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The Dynamics of Knowledge Circulation

Cases from Korea


Edited By Eun-Jeung Lee and Marion Eggert

The book is about the evolution and transformation of knowledge and knowledge systems in the context of cultural contact. The articles take Korea as an example and deal with the configuration, dissemination and consolidation of knowledge in certain contexts of the past and present. Combining philological and social scientific approaches, this book is the result of a joint research project of the Korean Studies institutes at Freie Universität Berlin and Ruhr University Bochum pursued between 2009 and 2014.

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Eun-Jeung Lee - Dreaming of a Strong State: The Notion of the State in the Works of Yu Kil-Chun


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Eun-Jeung Lee

Dreaming of a Strong State: The Notion of the State in the Works of Yu Kil-Chun

Abstract Yu Kil-chun stands out in the intellectual landscape of 19th-century Korea. He does not want to dispose of traditional Confucian thought in its entirety, but hopes to fuse its positive elements with the features of a constitutional monarchy for the ultimate aim of creating a prosperous country with a strong military.

This paper examines the notion of the state entertained by Yu Kil-chun (兪吉濬 1856–1914), one of the foremost intellectuals of late 19th-century Korea. As well as being a scholar, Yu Kil-chun was an ardent politician, keen to put his political ideas into practice. As a politician, Yu found himself at the very heart of the turmoil afflicting Korea in the years between the opening of the country in 1876 and its annexation by Japan in 1910. The period was crucially marked by the pressing question of how to secure Korean independence and, more generally speaking, how to set up a political system fit to meet novel challenges in turbulent times. Korean scholars and politicians of the time held widely divergent views on how to achieve both of those ends.

Yu Kil-chun, who is generally considered to have belonged to the reformist faction of his time, stands out prominently in the intellectual landscape of 19th-century Korea. His quest was for a decidedly modern conception of the state, to be enriched...

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